Stepping Out: La Pizza
8137 Delmar Blvd
University City, MO 63130
This week I ventured to La Pizza, which was recently rated by St. Louis Magazine as having the best pizza in the entire city. If you’ve ever driven west on Delmar Boulevard, you’ve most likely seen La Pizza but subconsciously screened it from your memory. The pizzeria is a little shack with a sign that is barely visible at night. If it weren’t for its devoted group of followers, I’m not sure I would trust giving the food to a Hungry Hungry Hippo, let alone eat it myself. As I found out, however, appearances are not always what they seem.
On a Sunday night at around 7:30 p.m., La Pizza was packed with patrons picking up their pizzas. The establishment has about four tables, so theoretically it is possible to eat there, but most people choose carryout. La Pizza “delivers,” but each of the five times I have called for delivery, I was given a different excuse for why that wasn’t going to happen: the driver was sick, they don’t deliver more than a mile away, or the driver was out smoking. Realistically, if you want some La Pizza, you’re better off driving to the little shack to get some.
When I called to place an order for pickup, they told me it would take 45 minutes. An hour and a half later, my food still wasn’t ready. Having said that, the guys working there were really nice and charismatic. I just couldn’t get mad at them…until they forgot to make my sandwich (they were, however, really apologetic!). Luckily for me, I had brought a friend, and we passed the time by questioning whether Hugh Grant has ever deserved an Oscar. Forty minutes and a few free drinks later, having resolved the great debate, I finally had my sustenance.
One of the workers touted the meatball sandwich as being world-class. Two giant meatballs were packed in between two long loaves of white bread, covered with melted mozzarella and marinara sauce. It was really good. I loved the consistency of the meatballs: They were nice and moist, yet firm enough that they didn’t crumble too easily. The taste of the meat was savory, with a slightly salty taste that didn’t overpower the other flavors. The melted cheese was delightfully stringy, and the mild flavor provided a nice contrast to the robust meatballs. Their marinara sauce is great. I’m not sure what’s in it, but the faint touch of spice, garlic and onions along with the fresh tomato all worked remarkably well together. I simply wish they had given me more sauce.
La Pizza is famous for their New York-style pizzas, defined by thin crust, lots of tomato sauce and cheese. They offer all the basic toppings, with some specialties available upon request (apparently they make an awesome pizza with crab and lobster), but I went for the more-basic pepperoni version. The first thing I noticed about the pizza was the crust. It is really nice and fluffy, yet crispy enough to give the pizza a little bit of a crunch. You can really tell that the dough is homemade. Interestingly, I found the same mozzarella cheese that I enjoyed on the meatball to be a little bit rubbery on the pizza. The cheese didn’t taste bad, but in truth, I found the texture a little off-putting. The tomato sauce was, once again, great: really fresh tomatoes with a slightly sweet flavor that aptly cut the spiciness of the pepperoni. On that point, I wish the pepperoni had brought a few more layers of flavor besides the heat. I found it kind of bland, and if I had it all over to do again, I would have gone with a different topping. All together, the pizza was definitely enjoyable but not mind-blowing.
My experience at La Pizza was a good one. The food was good, but I question whether it deserves the title of the best pizza in St. Louis. The guys working behind the counter were especially friendly, if a bit disorganized. It wasn’t too expensive, and I was certainly satisfied afterwards. I’d check it out if I were you. You might just find that you like the pizza—and simultaneously realize the merits of Hugh Grant’s bumbling charm.